Today I had my first Taiwanese language class at Shi-Da. Shi-Da offers the class as one of the cultural classes. They also have classes in calligraphy, name chop engraving and a few others.
I have made sporadic efforts at studying Taiwanese but so far I haven't got beyond learning a few of the most common words and phrases. However, I think the language is important and useful and it is something that I really want to learn.
The teacher is Xiao Laoshi (蕭老師). She has a Master's Degree in Teaching Southern Min Dialect as a Second Language. As far as I know she is the only specialist Taiwanese language teacher at Shi-Da. She is very enthusiastic and I like her teaching style.
The first class used Xiao Laoshi's own materials. The class mainly covered phonetics. The Peh-oe-ji (POJ) romanisation system was used. POJ is sometimes referred to as Church Romanisation because it was originally invented by Presbyterian missionaries. The teacher commented indirectly that she uses this system because it is the most well known. There are other systems but they are not in common use.
A few of the students in the class already knew a little Taiwanese. Others knew none at all. There was quite a bit of material covered. As well as the phonetics we also learnt a simple conversation. For the complete beginners it might have been a bit overwhelming.
My only complaint is that the class is only once per week. I think it is disappointing that Taiwan's largest Chinese language school cannot offer more classes in Taiwanese.
I will write some more about the class and the Taiwanese language over the next couple of months.